I know, I know, you are hoping that this is kitchen cabinet v. AllisonO 2.0, and that I finally conquer those bankity blankin Cheerios, but it’s not. Nope, those snapware containers are sitting nicely on my counter as a reminder that I need to go return them to Costco and then track down some containers shorter than 13inches. I have not had time to do so.
If this (O My Organization) week has taught me anything, it’s that organization is hard. It takes a painful amount of effort, and sometimes you fail. I kept thinking to myself “This was not the week to choose to organize.” We are having a garage sale this weekend, are re-landscaping the front yard, had an unfortunate run in with a city ordinance, have an incredibly mobile child, and I’m flying to New York City in less than a week.
But really? When is a good week to organize? It’s always going to be something. Life is going to keep happening and while deciding that you want to completely overhaul your desk area and workspace on the same day that you lay dirt and plant shrubs in your yard might not be the best planning in the world, I have learned and truly believe this:
The effort you put into organization now (even though it sucks) will save you effort later.
I have a testimony of that, and I am going to bear it now.
So, you know how the interwebs used to be the place that my spare time went to die? Well, I had another black hole in my life and it was even more frustrating than my cereal/boxed mixes/nuts/soy sauce/raisin/crouton shelf. It was called my desk.
You don’t have any idea how badly I wish I could tell you that I staged this picture by adding extra stuff to the top of my desk and making the piles all disheveled. Nope. I actually cleaned it up a bit and then realized that I needed to take a before picture. O yea, this is my desk on a good day.
It got to the point that I didn’t even use it as a functional desk. Really I just used it as a paper stopping place or the surface to which we moved all the junk from the dining room table when we had guests for dinner (true statement). I would toss coupons and mail at my desk with no real flow or priority level. It was ugly.
I needed a space to be able to work on my computer, be inspired to write and create, and be organized in storing household stuff such as coupons and receipts. I needed a plan.
(I also needed a themed blogging week to kick me into high motivated gear and tackle this project, so thanks for that!)
Organization Tip: Unlike what AllisonO did with her kitchen cupboard, make a plan. What do you need from the project? What are your guidelines (time line, budget, space constraints, etc.)?
I made a plan by thinking of all the purposes that this space needed to fulfill, then I chose a part of the space that would be dedicated to those purposes, and I set guidelines for myself (time line was to have it done for this week’s posts and budget was $45). And then just for fun I drew it out because I’m a doodler. (You should see my college notebooks.)
Then? The hard part.
My first actual task when organizing (as it was with the cupboards and when I have a week of posts to prepare) is to start with a blank slate. I cleaned off my desk and actually emptied almost every item out of my drawers (because those were unruly, too).
Organization Tip: Empty it all out before you put it back in. Sort, throw away, prioritize, and sort some more.
Then I began putting things back in the drawers according to the plan I had made. At times the plan didn’t fit the reality of what worked, but (unlike in the kitchen) everything worked out with a little problem solving. I now have a drawer just for stationary and cards (I like to have about 394 birthday cards on hand and they take up a lot of room), a drawer for coupons, mailers and receipts (O THE JOY!), and one for paper/crafting supplies/the camera.
Next step was supplies. As with the actual organization, what I had envisioned and put down in the plan didn’t match perfectly with the reality of what was available at the store, but it all worked out in the end. Fabulously in fact. I had several coupons for JoAnn Fabrics, so I started my search there. About 2 seconds after walking in the doors (wearing OBaby in our mei tai of course so that all of the sweet ladies at the cutting counter could flirt with him) I found something that made the whole project come together in my head. This is what ::ahem:: inspired it all:
I know that this isn’t technically about organization, but this word as it relates to my desk area means so much to me. I wanted this work space to inspire me to write, blog, and create, but what really inspires me to write and create is… my desire that somehow this space would (even just once) inspire someone else. I knew I wanted to put this on the shelf above my desk as a reminder to myself of what’s important.
(And it didn’t hurt that it was on sale for 50% off, either.)
On the shelf over was a (also 50% off) white antiqued mirror that I bought to place on my desk as another reminder to myself in this space. We have a cricut cutting machine, with which I am going to (probably right after I return those cereal containers) cut red letters that say “reflect Him” and put them over the mirror.
I still needed a paper sorter, some clipboards, and a way to hang them all on the wall. I decided that, since I was already at JoAnn Fabrics, I would go ahead and buy some fabric that I could use to cover plywood as the backing for the organization station. All it took was 3/4 yards of fabric (with a 40% off coupon), an upholstery stapler (we bought at HomeDepot a few years ago for $10 or so), and a 40×24 piece of plywood (would be about $10 at a hardware store, but my father-in-law had some on hand).
From there I decided on an organized layout for the board, focusing on the placement of the things that needed to get my attention. I doctored up some clip boards to match the theme and hung them front and center to be used for “To Write” and “To Do” lists. I made the paper bin which is used to hold notebooks and frequently accessed papers low and, well, accessible.
Are you ready to see the result?
I have to be honest with you. A huge part of my motivation for this project was decorative. I really did need an inspiring and dedicated work space. But in reality, it’s the cleaning out of the drawers and the organization (as in, actually having a place to put things) that has made all of the difference in the world. As I type this almost exactly a week after finishing it, my desk looks remarkably similar to these staged photos. In other words, it has stayed clean. Why? Because there’s a place for everything and everything is in it’s place (did anyone else’s dad used to recite that to them on “Clean your room.” day? No? Just mine?).
Sure, it’s pretty, but it works because it’s organized.
Organization Tip: Focus on the end goal and what drives you to get there. For me I needed the decorative and inspirational pieces to this big project to motivate me through the sorting drawer after abandoned drawer.
The item breakdown:
Overhead shelf (was there before) – Ikea (Lack series)
Snow Globe – Disney World (it was our honeymoon souvenir)
Two photo frames – both used to be different colors and as a part of a previous project, I sprayed them black. The photos are matted with clear photo corners and I covered the (varying) mat colors with shipping paper (like paper grocery bag material, purchased on a roll at the Dollar Tree)
Large clothespin – JoAnn Fabrics (40% off coupon)
Metal “Inspire” words – JoAnn Fabrics (50% off)
White capital letter A – JoAnn Fabrics
Black small mounted picture frame – previously owned, added red flower stickers (also from JoAnns)
Clipboards – base and list pads of paper from the Dollar Tree, red paper to cover from JoAnns
Metal paper pocket – JoAnn Fabrics (College stuff section, on sale at 50% off)
Metal utensil cup – JoAnn Fabrics (50% off)
Cork board – pack of 4 12″x12″ squares from JoAnn Fabrics (50% off in college section)
Standing mirror – JoAnn Fabrics (50% off)
3/4 of a yard of fabric – JoAnns with a 40% off coupon
Plywood – free from OBaby’s grandpa’s workshop
My sanity – priceless
I will post a (super easy) tutorial on how to make $1 adorable clipboards to match any room in your house (in fact I kind of have an itch to make 3 for my kitchen) tomorrow, so come back and be inspired by that, but right now I have something even more inspiring:
Sharing our organization tips, projects, or attempts (hey, failures are welcome too!) with each other!
I can’t wait to learn from what you have been up to with organizing. Go ahead and add a link below to your blog post about organizing, I only ask that you link back to O My Family somewhere in the post. That’s it! Have fun!